Pharma Stocks: 5 Biggest Companies in 2023

Pharmaceutical Investing
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The five biggest pharmaceutical companies by market cap are Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Roche Holding and Merck.

The biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world are responsible for developing and manufacturing the vast majority of prescription drugs, giving them a key role in the life science industry.

The pharma sector is responsible for the discovery, development and manufacturing of drugs and medicine. Companies are developing innovative treatments in areas like immuno-oncology and neurology, as well as novel options for rare diseases.

With the pharmaceutical sector projected to reach a staggering US$1.6 trillion in total revenue by 2028, the need for the industry is great. Opportunities for investment are also sizeable, but what's the best place to start? Those who want exposure to the pharma market may want to begin by looking at the major players in the space.

With that in mind, here are the five biggest drug companies by market cap. Data for this article was compiled using’s stock screener on January 26, 2023, and stocks are listed from largest to smallest.

1. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)

Market cap: US$441.48 billion

Starting off this list of the biggest pharma companies is Johnson & Johnson, a life science holding firm. Life science companies often specify their focus, but thanks to its massive scale, Johnson & Johnson covers many areas through its subsidiaries.

In terms of pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson’s focus is on six therapeutic areas: cardiovascular disease and metabolism, infectious diseases and vaccines, neuroscience, oncology, immunology and pulmonary hypertension.

2. Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY)

Market cap: US$330.83 billion

Founded in 1876, Eli Lilly and Company develops products for human and animal health. Its human pharma products include therapies for endocrinology, neuroscience, oncology, immunology and cardiovascular disorders.

Eli Lilly has research and development facilities and manufacturing plans in eight countries and has done clinical research in over 50 countries. In 2023 and beyond, analysts space expect to see more developments in Alzheimer’s treatments out of this pharma giant.

3. Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO)

Market cap: US$310.03 billion

Novo Nordisk has honed its efforts on diabetes and other serious chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity and rare blood and endocrine disorders. The company’s operations span 80 countries and it markets products in around 170 countries.

In an effort to compete with rival companies in the insulin market, Denmark-based Novo Nordisk has launched smart insulin self-injection pens in the UK. The app-supported NovoPen 6 and NovoPen Echo Plus provide diabetes patients with a less invasive way to monitor and record dosing information. The use of digital technologies in healthcare is a growing trend as pharma companies seek to improve the safety and efficacy of the medical treatments they offer.

4. Roche Holding (OTCMKTS:RHHBY)

Market cap: US$298.01 billion

Roche Holding is one of the largest biotech companies. Its reach expands into oncology, immunology, ophthalmology and diseases related to the central nervous system. The company has more than 90,000 employees spanning 100 countries around the globe, and Roche boasts that it spends approximately 9 billion Swiss francs on research and development each year.

The pharmaceutical division of its business is focused on developing medicines for areas with unmet needs, such as oncology, immunology, opthalmology, infectious diseases and neuroscience.

5. Merck & Company (NYSE:MRK)

Market cap: US$269.61 billion

Merck & Company's product line includes therapies for diabetes, cancer, vaccines, hospital care and animal health. It aims to treat conditions such as cancer, HIV, HPV, Ebola, hepatitis C, cardio-metabolic disease and antibiotic-resistant infections.

The company recently acquired Acceleron Pharma for US$11.5 billion and Imago BioSciences for US$1.5 billion. Both acquisitions are expected to significantly expand Merck's treatment portfolio and revenue-generating capacity.

This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2016.

Don’t forget to follow @INN_LifeScience for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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